Risk (The Driven World) by Harlow Layne




Dedication





Thank you Kristy for letting me be a part of your world and writing characters that haven’t left my heart and won’t for years to come.





Callum





Australia





Gripping my steering wheel until it felt like my knuckles might break, I could only pray that the scene in front of me would clear out before I passed through.

“Steady, Callum. You’ve got this. The cars are clearing…oh fuck,” Kaspar said through my headphones. The fear in his voice put my already stressed body on edge.

Unfortunately, God wasn’t with me that day. When the smoke cleared, there was only more carnage in front of me. I braced for impact. It wasn’t my first wreck, but I wasn’t sure if it would be my last.

Would today be the last day I ever drove, or would it be my last day on Earth?

Even though I was prepared for my car to hit what was in front of me, I wasn’t…not really. The sound of metal ripping and the way my car flipped through the air had me praying to a God I didn’t believe in, closing my eyes, and wishing for the best.

Not believing was probably what had me in this mess to begin with, but if He let me live, then I would spend the rest of my days believing. I’d be a good man. I’d give my time to charities and maybe even reach out to my mother who’d left me to fend for myself at the ripe ol’ age of fifteen.

But I couldn’t die in the opening race of the season.

“We’re on our way. Just hang in there, buddy,” Kaspar said before I even hit the ground.

That was the last thing I heard before I felt a searing pain in my leg. My head slammed around inside my helmet one last time before there was only black.

I floated in a sea of nothingness, and no matter how hard I tried to swim up to the surface, I stayed immobile in the blackness that surrounded me. I fought with everything I had to open my eyes to no avail. It felt like years before my eyes finally cracked open.

My surroundings were white and smelled of antiseptic, making me want to crawl out of my skin to get the hell out of there. There was nothing worse for a racer than being in the hospital, except for not being able to drive.

Lying there, I assessed my body. I was in pain, but that was to be expected. I assumed I’d been in a wreck because that was the only way anyone could drag me to a hospital. The only problem was I didn’t remember being in a wreck. I remembered landing in Australia and meeting my team at the hotel and then…nothing.

Did I wreck during qualifying?

No, that couldn’t be.

But again, I didn’t remember.

I went back to assess each body part from my toes to my head. I could move everything; it just hurt like a bitch. My head pounded, and my vision swam as I tried to look around the room.

At least a nurse or a doctor hadn’t come in yet. I knew once they came in, I’d learn what was wrong with me. I was a little surprised no one from the team was here, even if they were all superstitious. Had I been in a coma? Had they moved on to the next destination without me?

“Mr. Crew, it’s so good to see you finally with us,” a cheery nurse with an Aussie accent said as she came around my bed. When she saw me eying her, she gave me a warm smile and patted my hand. “I’m going to take your vitals, and then I’ll get the doctor to come check you out.”

“Sure. Thanks,” I mumbled. My voice was hoarse and dry.

“I’ll also see about getting you some water or ice chips to help with your throat.”

“Thanks again.”

She smiled down at me warmly as she took my blood pressure. “You’re an American?”

“Yeah, I’m here for the—”

“The race,” she supplied.

“Yeah.” My brows wrinkled, trying to remember where in the process my wreck had occurred. “Did it already happen? I don’t…”

A flash of smoke and the smell of burnt rubber filled my senses. I could almost taste it. Then, as if in slow motion, the entire wreck played out before me until I was staring up into the kind brown eyes of my nurse.

I was lucky to be alive.

“It was the race. From what I hear, you were in the lead,” she smiled, and then it quickly faded. “You were catching up to the boy in the back and would have passed him when there was a wreck.” She shook her head, and her gray hair fell over her forehead.

“Was it bad?” I croaked out.